The Republican U.S. senator threw his support behind the former president during a Fox News appearance.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, endorsed Donald Trump to be the Republican presidential nominee Tuesday evening after facing pressure from the former president to back his reelection campaign.
Cruz announced his endorsement during an appearance on Fox News with host Sean Hannity a day after Trump easily won the Iowa caucuses that kicked off the 2024 presidential race.
In the weeks leading up to the caucuses, Cruz resisted pressure from Trump’s campaign to back the former president saying he wanted to hear from the voters in Iowa.
Eight years ago, Cruz was celebrating his win in Iowa — over Trump — during his own bid for the presidency. The process of the Iowa caucuses and his experience there played into his decision to endorse Trump, he said.
“The men and women of Iowa, they take their responsibility incredibly seriously, they scrutinize the candidates. It’s an amazing process and I’m a big believer in letting democracy play out,” Cruz said. “Last night it played out and, I gotta say, Trump’s victory was across the board.”
Trump earned 51% of the votes in Monday’s caucuses, a 30-point victory over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who barely edged out a second place victory over Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
After seeing the Iowa results, Cruz said Trump had clearly won the GOP nomination. He called on Republicans to unite behind Trump to focus on beating President Joe Biden.
“At this point, I think the contrast needs to be on substance and policy and records,” Cruz said. Cruz criticized Biden’s handling of border security and called for a crackdown on illegal immigration, which has an outsized impact on Texas, he said. Cruz, and other GOP leaders across the country, routinely attack Biden’s immigration policies.
Trump faces four separate criminal investigations, including a federal trial scheduled for March, in which he is accused of illegally trying to subvert the 2020 election.
Last month, Trump targeted the Texas senator on his social media platform, Truth Social, by taking jabs at Cruz’s reelection campaign.
The two have a complicated history. After Cruz lost the battle for the 2016 primary to Trump, he withheld his endorsement for weeks after Trump officially became the nominee. Since then, the two have supported each other, Cruz in the Senate and Trump on the campaign trail.
Trump continues to lead all public polling in Texas and has received the bulk of endorsements from GOP elected officials in the state. That includes Gov. Greg Abbott, who endorsed Trump’s comeback campaign for the White House, while hosting the former president at the Texas-Mexico border in November.
One of the few Texas officials who has not endorsed Trump is U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Austin. Roy, who is Cruz’s former chief of staff, traveled to Iowa multiple times to campaign for DeSantis. Roy did say he would back Trump if he is the nominee.
Texas’ other U.S. senator, John Cornyn, has been much less inclined to back Trump. He said he does not plan to endorse in the primary but has made clear he would prefer a new direction for his party, which has also angered Trump.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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